The retail industry has progressed over time to become more diverse and inclusive. From adding a maternity section to their collections, to tall and petite clothing ranges becoming more common, brands appear to be accommodating for all sizes and shapes.
A higher demand for non-standard sizing
As more consumers shop for non-standard sizing, retailers have had to step up to meet the demand.
In one review by PwC, it was revealed that the plus size market is worth around £6.6bn in 2017 (of which women and men make up £4.7bn and £1.9bn respectively). In fact, the market has been outperforming the overall womenswear and menswear clothing market in the UK — demonstrating the increase in industry interest.
PwC’s UK Plus Size Clothing Market Review 2017 forecasts growth of the plus size segment to be around 5-6% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from 2017 to 2022. What is leading this growth?
One of the factors is the increase in ‘body confidence’ among plus size consumers. This is driven by brands and plus size influencers engaging with customers and encouraging them to embrace their curves and love their body. Online shopping is driving the market too. PwC identified that plus size consumers have a greater preference for purchasing clothes such as plus size dresses and tops over the internet and the rise of ecommerce has caused this market to thrive further.
Ranges such as; wide-fit shoes, tall, petite and maternity have been released to meet the needs of other customers too. Although it’s predominantly in the womenswear market at the minute, some retailers have released male plus size and tall ranges too.
Changes in high fashion
In terms of fashion trends, its usually high-fashion designers that make the first move. But, when it comes to plus size and diversity, it’s the high street brands that are taking the lead.
There have been change on the catwalk too though. In fact, at SS18 shows, there was a record of 93 plus-size/curve model appearances and 45 transgender castings. There was more inclusion when it came to age too, as 27 models over the age of 50 walked the runways.
How has social media changed the industry?
It’s likely that the rise in social media has led to brands becoming more inclusive too.
Social media platforms allow customers to connect and communicate more with brands. It’s now easier than ever before for unhappy customers to make their voice heard, especially if they feel that they’re being under- or unrepresented by a company — this is then often supported by internet users who feel the same way.
These negative comments can be highly damaging and how a company responds is crucial. Arguably, the way a business deals with an online complaint is more important than how they deal with one in-store, as it’s on a public platform for all to see. To avoid this destructive cycle, brands must be considerate of all their users.
User-generated content is also encouraging all customers to get involved with brands. In the fashion world, a consumer simply needs to look through ‘tags’ of a brand or search for images that have been hashtagged with a retailer’s name to see pictures of people wearing their clothes. This allows buyers to see the products on ‘real’ people rather than models from the adverts. This again encourages people who are not a ‘standard’ size to purchase new clothes — motivated perhaps by a photograph of someone who is a similar size to them in the same garment. Many fashion retailers encourage their customers to do this by offering them the chance to feature on the page if they use their hashtag.
Some brands have also avoided photoshopping stretch marks, cellulite and other ‘imperfections’ that are usually edited out of marketing images in fashion. This again encourages people to get involved and purchase clothing from that brands, resonating more with real models.
The retail industry is certainly on the right path when it comes to being more inclusive, encouraging everyone to get involved in shopping and the fashion world.